The Newer Edda: Chapter 3

  • Chapter Three: Concerning Bergrimr’s Dispute with Jarl Hralfdan Hralfdanson of Markarth


           Now when at last Bergrimr had shouted himself hoarse and called Orm indoors to release him from the bonds Dortgljot had bound him with, he was furious to find that she had taken with on her violent errand every single weapon to be had from their household. Grabbing a battered shield and rusted pitchfork from a toolshed and instructing Orm to stay home and watch over Erikr, Kroke, and Toki, he set forth down the mountain cursing his wife and his wounds. Slow going it was due to these battle marks, and it was long after the carnage his wife had wrought when at last he found the signs of skirmish leading to Druadach Redoubt. Now Bergrimr came upon that somber place of mourning, and the bitter Reachmen whooped aloud and shot arrows at him till he ran off and they could return to attending funeral rites.

           However Bergrimr was a great hunter and keenly descryed the hoofprints of the jarl’s entourage leading from the blood-soaked ground, and so set off southwards in the direction they led him, to soon come upon the outlier farmsteads crowding around the walls of the city of Markarth. Now as jarl Hralfdan and Bergrimr’s previous lord had long fueded between one another, and as Hralfdan would surely recognize him along with a number of his warriors should they spy him,  Bergrimr thought it ill to approach injured and in the dark of night, and so posted himself in secret within a farmyard stable to wait until the light of day, that he might present a civil case before those he questioned in relation to his wife.

           It must now be told that Dortgljot awakes in panic, and in no wise knows where she is found herself. Though she is stripped of armor and bandaged very thoroughly on her battle marks, unease prompts her to caution for she knows not her host nor their intent. She whom waxed her youth within in the border forests of the Jerall mountains has never been inside Markarth, and the symmetrical stone architecture and furniture further her alienation. It is however evidently a wealthy room she finds herself in. Finding food and watered wine on a stone bench near her bed, Dortgljot composes herself as well she can and eats while watching the chamber door. After a time however, and with no way to mark this uneasy passage, she rose and went to the door to find it unbarred.

           Though she knew it not, she now walked freely through the night-quieted halls of Understone Keep, the stronghold of jarl Hralfdan Hralfdanson, deep within Markarth. The archways and wide unoccupied rooms had a spaciousness she was unaccustomed to, and unfelt drafts guttered the flames of wall sconces as she passed, and not a soul was awake to greet her. Inanimate dwarven constructs stood sentry but did not bar her way, and she found herself presently in the kitchen and its mead stores; there she set to drink until such time as someone came to explain her circumstances. Now it must be said that this was a goodly time away, for she had awoken broad night. And so when morning and its inhabitants found her, she was surly with drink and cross at being made patient.

           Now did Hralfdan son of Hralfdan come into her presence and bid her join him in his throne room whereby they might hold audience in private. Wishing naught else but to quit that place and check upon her family, reluctantly she made to follow. But when asked who she was, and who her family, it did occur to Dortgljot, her agile mind, to give false name for her husband and say in nowise did she live in the Reach. Now it was clear that Hralfdan wished her for himself, she a beautiful warmaiden able to contend in all ways, and made a suggestion of that nature. And it is noted that never did Hralfdan happily accept less than that which he desired.

           The tale does not relate the details of Dortgljot’s refusal to that bedside manner, only that it ended with wroth and limping Hralfdan calling for his thanes to catch and arrest the vixen who had spurned him. For her part, Dortgljot quit the city ahead of the housecarls and made good her escape.

           Now that morn as Bergrimr was rousing himself and making his way to the city gates, he beheld a singular cloaked rider thundering down the road away from the city and thought little of it. Yet when he reached the gates a great turmoil was about and guardsmen everywhere were in the midst of a failure of communication, so that some ran this way and others that way, and nobody seemed to know much of anything save that it was meet of them to act in a state of general panic. Bergrimr stood atime curiously watching from the bottom of the stone stairs leading to the great golden doors of Markarth. However upon seeing Bergrimr and recognizing instantly him for an enemy to the jarl, many thanes and housecarls leapt upon and seized him, for their agitation and anxiety was great and they could not suffer civility.  

           Before long the chase for Dortgljot was abandoned and things settled down in the city, and Bergrimr Ankson was brought before jarl Hralfdan Hralfdanson, for his presence in his city was unbidden if curious. So now does Bergrimr present his case in full and honest, pleading only for news about his beloved wife, so that now Hralfdan comes to learn the truth of Dortgljot’s identity. Then thinks the jarl to imprison or slay Bergrimr on some pretext or another so that he may seize upon his lands and chattel and have Dortgljot for himself. So now again is the city made in uproar as new quarry is chased, but the hounds of Markarth catch their prey this time, and so Bergrimr is thrown into the Cidhna mines.

           Also at this time, the tale relates that Dortgljot returns home to find evidence of violence, and several dead Forsworn litter her doorway, yet none of her family are in sight. All seems swirling in chaos about her, and the winds of wyrd blow stronger on the family, and that night Masser and Secunda disappear from the night sky. The year was 4E 98.



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